Global Launch

UW Global Launch in London is a year-long academic and experiential opportunity designed for first-year UW students to prepare them for success as global citizens in today’s interconnected world. The selected cohort, led by a UW professor, will engage in classroom learning, guest lecturers, guided visits around London and overnight excursions. While exploring British culture, students will complete core credit requirements and serve the community in which they will live through an international service learning component.

The Chris & Suzy (Oldorf) DeWolf Family Global Launch Scholars

Participants on this program will receive the Chris & Suzy (Oldorf) DeWolf Family Global Launch Scholarship. This scholarship, established for Fall 2020, aims to ensure that the cost of study abroad for the first-year is comparable to the on-campus overall cost of attendance.

Awards are given out as follows: Wisconsin Resident: $20,000; Minnesota Resident: $15,000; Non-resident: $10,000.

Student Profiles   First Impressions  Places: Favorite & Routine Service Learning

Our Global Classroom Student Global Leadership

Spring 2022 Profiles

Henry Grotophorst

Major: Political Science & English  Hometown: Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin

Why I chose Global Launch: It’s exciting and different and I get to live in a really cool part of the world.

When I return from London I hope to be more empathetic. Being exposed to a new culture will change my view of not only London but of the entire world.

With solid and deeply personal evidence of what another country is like, even just a single country, I can look at my home country with a whole new lens. 

Something unique about me: I am an avid creative writer.

Thomas Harb

Major: Linguistics   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Why I chose Global Launch: I applied to Global Launch because I love traveling, I love big cities, and I love the humanities, so this was a perfect program for me all around.

I am an inherently curious person, and I want to study abroad so that I can learn new subjects and gain new perspectives.

I am optimistic about what I will experience and learn, and I am certain it will become a lasting part of my character.

Something unique about me: I can speak some Russian and I play the cello.

Shannon Killberg

Anticipated Major: Community & Environmental Sociology  Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why I chose Global Launch: I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and I’ve never been to London, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I want to gain as much knowledge as I am able to while in London – both inside and outside of the classroom, and I know that surrounding myself and then engaging with new people, places, and ideas will allow me to grow both my empathy and humility while I am studying abroad.

Something unique about me: I like photography.

Leah Schneck 

Major: Political Science & Economics Hometown: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Why I chose Global Launch: I have always wanted to visit London and have always wanted to study abroad, so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity.

This time in London would be an amazing chance to expand my knowledge and broaden my worldview. I think that meeting new people from different backgrounds educates us to be more well-rounded global citizens. I hope that learning more about the culture in London will help me understand people better. I believe that traveling educates you to change your worldview for the better.

Something unique about me: I love to travel and it is my goal to visit all 50 states in the U.S.

First Impressions

In the first weekend that I was in London, I did a lot of walking. I walked to an entirely different neighborhood for my government-required COVID test, and found that there was a very noticeable shift in the types of shops and the behavior of the people on the sidewalk between where we are living and where I ended up in just an hour’s walk to the west. A few days later, I walked from near Piccadilly Circus back to the west where we live after seeing an FIE-organized West End theatre performance on the first weekend. I passed by tourist-centered areas, I passed by 18th and 19th century buildings and contemporary-style buildings, I passed by expensive hotels and upscale shops, I passed by green spaces, and I passed by memorials to victorious leaders. Even today, I am still surprised to see the medieval next to the modern, and the antiquated alongside the avant-garde. ~ Tommy

It was a little surreal stepping of the plane and thinking, ‘wow, I’m in London right now’. And not just that I was in London, but the fact that I would be living and studying here for four months. I have never lived in a place this big before, so being able to get on the tube and go anywhere was a new experience for me. So far, we have taken many class trips around the city, and I love how the entirety of London is our classroom. My favorite trip so far was the visit to the British Museum for our British Life and Cultures class. I thought it was incredible seeing all the famous artifacts from around the world such as the Parthenon Marbles and Rosetta Stone, as well as sparking an interesting discussion over these contested artifacts and whether or not they actually belong at the British Museum. I look forward to exploring more of this amazing city and learning about its extensive history. ~ Leah

Now that we’re a month in, the reality of studying abroad in London has finally sunk in. The first two weeks were full of settling in and starting classes, but now that I have a routine, I really feel like I’m living here. I go to the same coffee shop every day, I know which tube lines go to which parts of London (although I’m pretty directionally challenged so I still get confused by east and west-bound), and I have specific routes I like to walk along when it’s nice out. Plus, there’s so much to do and see! I’ve visited lots of museums and galleries with my classes and have also seen a few theatre productions. The best part is that most museums here are free, so I can visit whenever I want. My favorite part so far was our day trip to Oxford last Sunday. We had a tour guide show us around the town and college, and then we had time to go explore for ourselves. I went to see the Bodleian Library’s Divinity School (seen in the picture), which I was really excited about because it was the set of the infirmary in the first Harry Potter movie. I also climbed 127 (very steep) stairs in the Oxford University Church to the tower, which gave me a really amazing view of the whole town. That trip specifically was with all of the UW Madison kids, but I’m hoping to take some day trips on my own to other parts of England in the next few months. I am also really looking forward to starting our service project after spring break. I can’t believe we only have 3 months left here! ~ Shannon

I can hardly believe it’s been 4 weeks in London already, time has just flown by.  The picture I have attached is actually a picture of Oxford and not London, but that’s because all my pictures of London are very overcast and grey.  Fortunately it has been relatively rain free and I’ve been told it has been warmer than usual, but the clouds still refuse to let the sun through.  Since the weather has been so mild I have been trying to visit as many boroughs as possible.  I really enjoy how different parts of this city feel very distinct from each other, which isn’t surprising as the growth of this city has been centuries in the making.  Still, I am surprised when I am walking along a series of Victorian town houses and then suddenly stumble upon a skyscraper.  Another thing that has come as a pleasant surprise is the way a rainbow of cultures seep through this city.  The whole ‘you are more likely to hear a foreign language than English’ on the street is very true.  The restaurants here are great as well, as any of the world’s food options are just a bus or tube ride away.  I have never had so many different foods before in my life.  All of this leads me believe that London is the place explore.  You don’t have to find adventure here, it finds you. ~ Henry

Places: Favorite & Routine

Shannon: My favorite place to explore in London has been Brick Lane. We took a tour of the area for our British Life and Cultures class, and I immediately fell in love with the history and street art. Brick Lane is an archive of memories from different people and cultures, and it was really cool to see how those narratives are still present today. I loved the smells coming from different restaurants, many of which were Indian, but the best was in the beigel shop I visited while exploring after the tour. I thought it was interesting that the shop used the original spelling of the word bagel – not to mention it was the best bagel I’ve ever had. The coolest part of Brick Lane, however, has to be its street art. It was everywhere I looked, and there were even some designs that I recognized. The prints of Amy Winehouse that I found in a few different places were my favorites. I’m definitely going to visit Brick Lane again soon to check out all of the vintage stores and get another bagel.

A routine place I visit is the study lounge in the basement of Metrogate. While I do like to study at coffee shops, I end up here a lot of the time since it’s in my building. There’s almost always a few other students in here as well, which is nice because being around other people helps me focus when I’m studying. There are lots of outlets which are very convenient, and during the day the skylight in the ceiling lets in a lot of really nice natural light. It’s also a good spot to work on group projects or hang out while you wait for your laundry to finish

Tommy: My favorite place to explore in London is the City of London, which is a borough within London itself. The incredible history there makes it one of my favorite places. The first settlement in present-day London was by the ancient Romans. They built a walled city, and the borders of that city is the City of London today; even some of that original ancient stone wall is still standing. Throughout the centuries, that space was still the heart of London, and it is evident in the buildings. In walking around for just ten minutes, one would see a 1st century stone wall, an 11th century castle, and a 21st century award-winning environmentally sustainable building, among so much more. The contrast of architectural styles and eras, along with the vast history of this area, in addition to it being riddled with buildings of great importance (e.g. the Bank of England) makes it a truly unique place to experience. The picture is of the Millennium Bridge (built in the 20th century) that leads to St. Paul’s Cathedral (built in the 17th century); I feel it accurately captures the continual development of the area with newer infrastructure, making it a wonderful collage of architecture.

My routine place is the Oscar Wilde Room, a classroom in Foundation House where I have two classes. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, I hike up to the 2nd floor (American translation: 3rd floor). One of the classes I have is Harry Potter. Upon walking in, there are windows straight ahead, two-three dozen identical blue tablet desks set up in rows facing the right, where there is a chair and a desk for the teacher facing them (left) and a smart projector behind that. The other class is one of my UW faculty courses: London and the Sense of Place. Instead of rows, all the seats are arranged in a circle for whole class discussions about the topic for the day and for a more communal environment. I’ve learned many fascinating things in this classroom, yet the most important is that I learned that I can hear pitches higher than others. There is an irritatingly high pitched sound that comes from near the door, and it seems I’m the only one that can hear it, probably because I’m the youngest in the classroom.

Henry: My favorite part of London to explore is the Camden Town area.  Camden Town is most well-known for the Camden Market, one of the biggest in London.  It has an amazing array of shops and an even better selection of food choices.  You can find street foods from all over the world here.  One cool thing about Camden Town is that it’s located on a series of canals, which are very nice to take walks on.  Finally, the best part about the Camden Town area are the adjacent parks.  Regent’s Park, like all the other royal parks, is a really nice place to go on a sunny day.  However, Primrose Hill is my favorite park in the area, as it easily offers the best view of the city skyline.

When you come to London you use public transportation a lot.  The London Underground, or as it’s colloquially known The Tube, will be the transportation you use the most around here, as it is the quickest way to travel across this traffic bogged city.  The Tube is clean, fast, and easy to use, so it’s no wonder 1.35 billion people every year.  At first it may seem daunting, 11 main lines, the Overground, the DLR, Trams, and other National Rail services each threaten to overwhelm you.  However, using your common sense as well as the Tfl app, it’s not that bad really.  Within just a week you will find yourself using London’s transportation system like a pro.

Leah: The favorite place I chose was from Westminster. I thought it was interesting to visit because that’s where you can find a lot of the attractions that people typically first think of when they think of London, such as Big Ben and the London Eye. It was surreal being there because it truly felt like I was in London when standing below and looking up at Big Ben. It’s funny because I’ve always had a glamorous image of it in my head and currently its mostly covered in scaffolding, which made it feel even more real.

This second image is from the coffee shop where I often go to work on homework. It’s typically hard to find somewhere to sit at a lot of the nearby coffee shops so I like this one in Victoria because it’s normally not as busy since it’s in the middle of an area with a lot of construction and also not as loud as some of the other places.

Service Learning

Leah: My first placement is at the Moorfields Eye Hospital. I work “front desk” which means that I hand out masks to patients who don’t have one and help give directions so they can find their wards or clinics. I enjoy this placement because I have met people from all over the world and already witnessed so much in just the past two weeks. It is an NHS hospital, so it has been interesting to see how the healthcare system differs in the UK than in the US. The network of volunteers there are all incredibly helpful and have made it an easy transition so far. My second placement is at St Andrews Barnsbury primary school where I assist a Year 4 class. Similarly to the hospital, it is so fascinating seeing how the school system differs, especially being at a smaller and religious school. I only recently found out that Head Boy and Girl is a real thing, but I have now discovered that it’s a thing as early as primary school.

Thomas: Since we have two different placements, I’ll talk about both of them. My first one is at the Charles Dickens Museum. My main role is to simply make myself available to guests if they have any questions. Since I am at a museum, learning is a natural and expected consequence. I’ve learned a lot about Charles Dickens himself, and the museum as a whole. My other placement is at St. Andrew’s Primary School. I’ve been helping the teacher with administrative things (e.g. making copies), while also helping the students themselves. It’s been good fun, and I’ve learned a little about the differences between the American and British education systems, since I’ve worked with the same age group before (1st grade in the US is Year 2 in the UK).

Henry: As a part of the UW Global Launch program, we’ve been asked to volunteer with some local community organizations.  I have been helping out at the Venture Community Center, a community center and adventure playground that focuses on giving kids the tools and freedom to have fun as they see fit.  It’s all about making sure that the kids have the freedom to make mistakes and to learn, so my job there is a rather nuanced one.  I have to make sure that they don’t do anything mind-bogglingly stupid, as kids do, while also allowing them to play in a way that allows them to make the most of their surroundings and imagination.

 I have also been helping out with the Year 6’s (Grade 5) at St. Andrews Primary school on Caledonian Road.  I’ve been a basic assistant in the classroom, but it’s been a lot of fun seeing the children’s excitement when it comes to learning.

Shannon: My service learning placements are with the London School of Mosaic and the Bankside Open Spaces Trust. At LSoM, I have been helping out with a painting class for senior citizens, as well as doing other tasks around the school. The people there are really interesting to talk to, and love to tell me about anything and everything. Just the other day, I spoke to one of the mosaic artists there who told me that a large Roman mosaic has been discovered by the London Bridge, which I didn’t know about. It is a really encouraging and welcoming space, with not only mosaic classes, but also clay working, upcycling and sewing, painting, and drawing.

My other placement, BOST, is an organization that is working to preserve and enhance green spaces in London. I really enjoy this placement because I get to garden outside, and so far it’s been 60º and sunny every time I’ve volunteered. We go to different parks each session, which is cool because I’m getting more familiar with some of the neighborhoods in London now. One space we worked in was at a church, and their employees made us cups of tea while we gardened. My BOST volunteer group is pretty small, but very friendly and passionate about gardening. I feel really lucky to be working with both of these organizations and am really enjoying my experiences!

Our Global Classroom

Leah: The learning environment here is been incredible because of how much learning we do outside of a traditional classroom setting. This picture was taken during our walking tour of Brick Lane for our British Life and Cultures class. Our tour guide, Pete, showed us the famous street art culture of the area and we even got to see a Banksy. In addition, we got an in-depth history lesson about its multiculturism, women’s rights, and a firsthand experience about the housing issues in London and what it’s like to be homeless. All of our excursions outside of the classroom has enriched our knowledge because we are experiencing things that we wouldn’t have learned from reading it in a textbook.

Thomas: The concept of having London as the classroom is an integral part of FIE’s curriculum. Not only do the teachers and staff come from different backgrounds, within and outside of London, but in all my classes we have gone out to experience firsthand the things we discuss in class. In my classes, we have talked about topics like community, types of theatre, and immigration/gentrification, but going out and volunteering ourselves, seeing theatre productions, and being in the very spaces that were gentrified from historically immigrant neighborhoods is altogether different.

Henry: If you are a part of UW Global Launch, you will go here during your time in London.  It’s the British Museum, one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world.  The Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Parthenon, Easter Island statues, and how the museum acquired these treasures; there are a million lessons to be learned here.  Learning in London means exploring London, and as a student in UW Global Launch you can expect plenty of opportunities given to you to do so in and out of class time.  

Shannon: A really cool aspect of our Art & Theatre course is that a lot of our class time isn’t spent inside an actual classroom, but instead at shows and art galleries. We get to see new art and performances every week, which I think is a really effective way to actually learn about it, because we get to experience it. This is very different from most traditional classes, which are just spent in a classroom. Additionally, the work that we get to see brings in a lot of different themes from all over the world. A few weeks ago we saw a show put on by the Belarus Free Theatre, and it was completely in Belarusian. It was the first time I had ever been to a live show that had to be translated through subtitles, and it was a really cool experience.

We have also seen a few different things that relate to British-Caribbean history, including a really engaging gallery called “Life Between Islands” at the Tate Britain, and a show called “Small Island” at the National Theatre. This class has been one of my favorites because of the opportunities we have to see performances and art that we otherwise may not even know about.

Student Global Leadership Conference

Thomas: At the Student Global Leadership Conference, one of the talks I attended was about the various responsibilities large corporations have, using Starbucks as an example. There were four, each was a tier in a pyramid. The bottom two were “economic responsibilities” and “legal responsibilities”; they were the most basic and essential ones that are required by society (i.e. make money and follow the law). The next tier was “ethical responsibilities”; integrity, fairness, people orientation, and responsibility are a few ethical qualities that are expected by society. The topmost one was “philanthropic responsibilities,” which are desired by society.

Leah: One of my group sessions discussed ethics in leadership. Students gave presentations about ethical dilemmas such as fast fashion, mob mentality, and Spotify paying their artists. It was very interesting hearing the presentation about the right v right dilemma of countries having carbon emissions restrictions versus letting less developed countries grow economically from industrialization. They talked about the three different ways to analyze an ethical dilemma, such as consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. I thought the presentations were interesting because they brought up dilemmas where both options seem like the right option and taught useful skills about how to analyze a situation from different angles.

Henry: As a student here in London, we were given the opportunity to participate in an event put on by FIE called the Student Global Leadership Conference.  This two day event taught us many things about leadership, but honestly there wasn’t some hidden truth of leadership given to us.  Instead, we were left to consider what we personally could do in a leadership role, and how to best apply ourselves.  Adapt to your situation, give what you can, do good; these were the key messages we were left with.

Shannon: One thing I discussed at the SGLC was how we can work to break through generational barriers with leadership. It was a really engaging conversation, because our session consisted of Gen X-ers, millennials, and Gen Z-ers like myself. In my group specifically, we discussed how when younger generations suggest changes in the workplace to their leaders they can come across as difficult or hard to work with, but a lot of the time having someone younger challenge an older concept or practice will bring about positive change. I thought it was really interesting to hear the perspectives of people older than me and relate them to my own experiences, and I think that the knowledge I got from this session will help me as I become more involved in workplace settings.

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